Cool down with hot weather hacks

D-I-Y ways to keep your cool

Reports say last month was the Earth’s hottest June ever recorded, and that the planet is on track for the warmest July. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Feeling the heat? You are not alone.

Reports say last month was Earth’s hottest June ever recorded and that it is on track for the warmest July. Recent data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), an agency responsible for science and technology related to air and space, show the global average temperature was 0.93 deg C above the June norm, based on a 1951 to 1980 baseline.

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service also determined that last month was the hottest June since 1880, both in Europe and around the world.


Ice, ice baby: New ice cream parlours in town

Several new ice cream shops have opened in Singapore in the last few months. PHOTO: EMMA

Get some respite from the sweltering heat at no fewer than six new ice cream shops that have opened in the past four months.

These include overseas brands such as Good Food Coffee & Bakery from Prague at VivoCity, and Little Damage from Los Angeles at Wheelock Place, all muscling into the erstwhile largely local, artisanal ice cream scene here.

The new icy treats in town all score big on the Instagram front. They span ice cream stuffed chimney cones – a popular dessert in Hungary – named after their cylindrical shape; blue Unicorn Tears ice cream on black cones made with activated carbon; and gravity-defying soft serve on a taco-shaped wafer topped with pearls.


How these burgers stack up

The Straits Times conducted a blind taste test of the good old cheeseburger from 12 burger-centric restaurants in Singapore. ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

It is shaping up to be the year of the burger, with the entrance of brands such as New York’s Shake Shack at Jewel Changi Airport, Korean-owned local burger restaurant Burger+ at Wisma Atria and home-grown BurgerLabo at Gillman Barracks.

Later this year, popular American chain Five Guys will join the bustling burger scene with its first outlet at Plaza Singapura.

With so many burger joints around, how do they stack up against one another?


Durian seller for a day: ST reporter John Lui gets himself into a prickly situation

ST correspondent John Lui working as a durian stall assistant at Hao Chi Liu Lian. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

There are preachers who say the banana is proof that we are living in a world designed by God. The banana fits the human hand, and is easy to peel and delicious, they say.

Well, the durian would like a word with them. Is it delicious? Oh yes. Does it look like a hand grenade designed by German tank engineers? Also yes.

Today, I am apprenticed to a man who wants to be known only as Ah Kim. The 26-year-old durian master is an employee at Hao Chi Liu Lian (684 Hougang Avenue 8 #01-957, tel. 8838 3265, Facebook: Hao Chi Liu Lian).


Hitting the road with kids

The road trip, which covered 4,790km over the course of three weeks, was an adventure that offered education and travel. PHOTO: AP

My daughters Happy and Bee have grown up in Asia. Since we left New York City for Singapore 12 years ago when Happy was four, and Bee was born here, both girls know little of the United States. The moment Happy suggested driving across the US for her 16th birthday, my husband Jim and I exclaimed, almost in chorus: “Let’s go!”

This adventure would offer both education and travel – the two best investments in our minds.

Admittedly, Jim and I have a passion for the road, learning with our feet on the ground and immersing in the place of the moment, as demonstrated by our Guinness World Record for circumnavigating the globe over three years, visiting 116 countries in a car from 1999 to 2001.


Artist Takashi Murakami’s flowers, skulls and arhats

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami at the STPI Creative Workshop and Gallery, where he has launched his first South-east Asian showcase. It will feature eight new paintings. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Singapore food is ruining Takashi Murakami’s diet.

The superstar artist laments jokingly: “When I’m eating food here, I forget about fasting.”

The 57-year-old, best known for the grinning flowers plastered on high fashion brand Louis Vuitton’s handbags in 2002, is in an expansive mood after a nasi padang lunch, and says that he has lost 15kg since going on an intermittent fasting diet.


Out, out, sun spots


The beloved children’s song from television series Barney & Friends goes: “Oh Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun/Please shine down on me.” But Barney never had to walk around in this tropical heat.

From observation, sun protection factor (SPF) – a measure of how well a sunscreen protects the skin from UVB rays – is one of those things you can never be sure is really working.

But sunscreen is one of the most important steps in any skincare regimen, says aesthetic doctor Chiam Chiak Teng, resident physician at Ensoul Medical Clinic. It minimises damage done to the skin by harmful UV rays as well as the risk of skin cancer.


Feast by the lake


Before me was a shimmering lake lined by verdant mountains basking under a clear summer sky.

But instead of being scorched by the sun, I was in an air-conditioned dining room of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant right out of my dreams.

Piccolo Lago (Italian for Little Lake) was a modern, fine-dining Italian restaurant in a standalone building that extended over the tiny Lake Mergozzo in northern Italy near the Swiss border.


Dispel heat with this recipe for Osmanthus Jelly


If you are feeling cranky from the relentless heat and humidity, cool down with Osmanthus Jelly.

Those who adore Chinese period dramas likely know that gui hua gao, or osmanthus cake, is a prized dessert of the imperial family. Here is a modern version made with konnyaku jelly.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that osmanthus can help dispel heat and has detoxifying properties. It is also said to help with raising mental alertness and relieving coughs.


Best 5 chilli crab renditions with a twist

Steamed Chilli Crab & Pork Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung. PHOTO: DIN TAI FUNG

Every July and August, chefs and restaurateurs in Singapore rack their brains to come up with dishes to celebrate National Day on Aug 9.

Most ideas converge around local dishes and hawker fare. And chilli crab, which many Singaporeans consider the unofficial national dish, inevitably comes under the spotlight.

It won’t be the usual rendition of the dish, of course, because that is available the whole year round and too common.


Beat the heat with these Singapore beers

The past six months have seen the launch of several Singapore beers – either brewed locally or by Singapore-based companies. PHOTOS: REDMART, TUAS BREWING CO

Craft beers are slowly but surely becoming mainstays on tap lists at bars, restaurant drinks menus and even inventory lists on grocery websites.

But while the craft beer scene here is typically dominated by international brands, the past six months have seen the launch of several Singapore beers – either brewed locally or by Singapore-based companies.

Unlike some craft beers that can be alienating with their funky styles, high alcohol content and unusual flavours, the small-batch alternative beers made by these players are targeted at the mainstream beer market via accessible lagers and pale ales.


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